Click here for my game story.
FINAL SCORE: Arizona 73, Cal 51. The Bears were dominated much of the second half and fall to 18-15 on the season. The NIT or, more likely, the College Basketball Invitational, awaits them. Wallace had 19 points. Kravish had 12 rebounds. But Kravish and Jordan Mathews, who combined for 44 points the day before against WSU, totaled just nine on combined 4 for 20 shooting.
7:56 2nd H: Arizona 55, Cal 45. The Cats threatened to put this away, but Cal continues to answer. Bird’s 3-pointer countered one moments earlier by Gabe York and the margin remains 10 points. Cal still winning on the boards, but has 13 turnovers. Wallace has 15 points and Bird has 10. Kravish with 10 rebounds. Johnson leads Arizona with 14 and Ashley has 13.
17:14 2nd H: Arizona 42, Cal 32. A 3-pointer by Stanley Johnson — what can’t he do? — and a fastbreak dunk by Hollis-Jefferson off a careless Cal turnover, and a five-point lead is doubled in the span of 26 seconds. Cal is good in transition. Arizona is scary.
HALFTIME: Arizona 33, Cal 27. There are two ways of looking at this. First, Cal trailed 48-27 at halftime against the Wildcats one week ago today. So this is encouraging for the Bears. They battled and actually outrebounded Arizona 21-19. But the final 2 minutes could have gone better for Cal. With his team down just 30-27, Wallace missed the second of two FTs (Cal was 5 for 8 in the half), and 6-8 Brandon Ashley got isolated down low against 6-3 Jordan Mathews, made the layup, drew the foul and converted the FT for a six-point play. Sam Singer then missed an off-balance jumper and Kravish missed from a couple feet beyond his usual comfort zone. Cal down just six despite shooting 33 percent (10 for 30). Arizona made 47.6 percent (14 for 30). Wallace leads Cal with nine points. Johnson and Ashley each have nine for the Cats.
7:57 1st H: Arizona 21, Cal 17. The Bears are hanging in there. Arizona stretched out to an 18-12 lead with a 10-0 run, but Cal answered back, including two baskets by Bird. Cal shooting just 35 percent (7 for 20), but has a 14-12 rebounding edge. Wallace has seven points for Cal.
11:48 1st H: Arizona 15, Cal 12. The Bears led 12-8 after a short hook by Kravish and a breakaway dunk by Wallace. But the Cats are coming strong. They have run off 7 straight points, including a monster driving dunk by Hollis-Jefferson. He tried to do the same thing on the next trip down and Bird, attempting to block it, was hit in the face and went to the bench for attention. Crowd is warming up and Cal needs to stem this now or face the consequences. (Bird is back in the lineup).
15:59 1st H: Cal 8, Arizona 6. Three-pointers by Wallace and Mathews helped the Bears overcome three turnovers on their first four possessions. Cal shooting 3 for 6 FG, 2 for 4 from 3-pt. Arizona is 3 for 7.
We’ll give this a try again today after massive internet connection issues Tuesday at the MGM Grand derailed my best efforts.
The top-seeded Arizona team just took the court and the crowd response made it feel like we’re at McKale Center in Tucson. Cal fans are here, but they are greatly outnumbered.
There are so many UofA fans in Vegas that the betting line on this game moved from 16 points to 19 overnight. For all I know, it may still be moving,
Cal (18-14), coming off its 84-59 thrashing of Washington State, will have it hands full in this quarterfinal matchup vs. the Cats. Arizona (28-3) beat the Bears by 39 points one week ago today, and also topped Cal by 23 in Berkeley this season.
But a couple things to consider:
— The No. 1 seed has not won the Pac-12 tournament since 2008, when UCLA did it.
— This one is hard to believe, but Arizona has not won the conference tournament since 2002. Four times since then, the Wildcats have failed to win it as the top seed.
None of that is likely to help Cal and this Arizona team is on a roll, having scored 82 points or more in six of its past eight games.
Cal: David Kravish, Dwight Tarwater, Jordan Mathews, Jabari Bird, Tyrone Wallace.
Arizona: Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley, Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, T.J. McConnell.